Workouts for September 30 through October 5th

This week we will focus on explosiveness and building a base for core strength and endurance. Our skills focus will be on the basics of ball handling and shooting. If we can master the little things, our team will accomplish big things.

Work out of the Day (WOD) for Wednesday and Friday

Skill Training:

For each of the five dribbling drills, take about a minute on each. Try to push yourself to get quicker and to keep you eyes up. If you make mistakes, that’s great; you are pushing yourself!

Right Hand Pound: With knees slightly bent and eyes up, pound the ball into the ground, keeping control with the fingers and pads of the hand

Left Hand Pound: Switch to your left, using the same form. With all drills you can vary the height and speed of your dribble, but try to emphasize staying low and quick.

In and Out Right Hand only and Left Hand only (Windshield Wiper):  Dribble the ball like you are going to cross over. But instead of going back and forth with both hands, one hand does all of the work. This drill is the base of a lot of in and out/ hesitation moves that you will need in your arsenal in order to be a good at creating off the dribble.

Quick Cross: Cross over hard and low, keeping your eyes up and your cross over below your knees. Keeping the ball low will make your cross over quicker and harder to steal. You can go back and forth with no extra dribbles, or take one dribble on each side to get yourself settled.

Figure Eight (Both Directions): Dribble the ball low and with your finger tips going around one leg and then the other. Try to take at least eight dribbles to go through the entire figure eight. After a minute or so, try to switch directions. Concentrate on keeping your eyes up and bending at  your knees and not at your waist.

For these shooting drills, concentrate on good form and getting better at in game shots. It doesn’t matter if you never miss a shot in HORSE but can’t hit a shot under game conditions. Game time is when it matters!

Form Shooting: Start in front of the rim. With only your  dominate hand, make three swishes in a row. It doesn’t count if the ball touches any part of the rim. After you make three in a row, take a big step back. Repeat this process until you get to a point where you cannot make three swishes in a row while keeping good shooting form. For your form, concentrate on keeping your elbow under the ball and not allowing it to flare out to the side. Follow through with a flick of the wrist. Your pointer and index finger should be the last to touch the ball and should be centered in the middle of the rim on your follow through. The drill makes you concentrate on your touch and putting good arch on your shot.

Mikan Drill: This is a great drill for both guards and bigs to develop good finishing ability around the rim. Starting in the middle of the rim make a layup on the right side,  rebound your shot keeping the ball above shoulder height, and shoot a left hand lay up on the left side. Go back and forth until your make 20 on each side. (There are plenty of youtube videos that do a great job of demonstrating this drill)

Free Throws: Shoot 50 Free Throws and keep track of how many you make. You should have a goal of improving your score each time! Keep your shot smooth throughout and keep your follow through right down the middle, just like in your form shooting drill. Arch on your shot will help give you good touch. You can have too much arch though. The optimal angle is about 45 degrees.

Beat the Pro: In this last drill, take shots from all over the court, some off the dribble and some by spinning the ball to yourself. If you make the shot, you get one point. If you miss, the imaginary pro, let’s say Paul George, gets one point. First to 10 wins! You can play this game a few times and from different spots. Challenge yourself!

In this last section of athleticism building, really focus on being quick and explosive in everything you do. But make sure your form is very good with every exercise in order to prevent injury.

Warm up and Work out:

20 Air squats-Keeping your back straight and your weigh on your heels, bend down like you are sitting in a chair and then stand back up.

10 Inch Worms- With your legs together and knees slightly bent, bend at your waist and touch the ground. While keeping your feet on the ground, walk your hands forward until you’re in a push up position. Now walk your feet back up to your hands. Repeat.

10 Square hops- Starting by standing on your left leg, hop to the left and land on the left leg. Now jump forward, then to the right, and then backwards, ending up back where you started making a Square with the landing points of your four jumps. After making ten squares with the left, repeat by making ten squares with the right.

20 Leap ups from a Chair: From a sitting position in a chair, in one explosive movement, stand up and jump as high as you can. Land softly and return to sitting in the chair. Repeat.

10 Push ups

20 Split jumps: Placing your right foot about two feet in front of your left, bend your knees and jump as high as you can, Land in with your feet in the same position as when you jumped. Land softly but then explode back into the air. After 20 reps place the left foot in front of the right and repeat.

10 Push ups

20 Calf Raises: Satnding on a book or stair with one leg, keep your knee pretty straight and lower your heel below the step. Next, raise up onto your toe like you are standing on your tip toe. Do 20 reps on both legs. Make sure the lowering of your heel is slow, but the raising of the heel is done quickly.

Push ups to failure- Go until you can’t do any more while keeping good form. You don’t want to let your form break down because it will put too much stress on your shoulder joints.

Planks-Lower yourself into a push up position, but have your weight on your elbows and forearms instead of your hands. Keep your abbs tight and your back straight. Do 10 for 10 seconds, 5 for 20, 2 for 30, or 1 for 60 seconds, depending on how hard or easy this exercise is for you.

WOD for Thursday and Saturday:

Run 1 mile and go through the skill work above. You can add more to these work outs if there are parts of your game you know you need to work on. Each week I will increase the difficulty of the workouts to keep things fresh and challenging, and I will concentrate on keeping things intense but not super long.

Post Your best mile time and your Free Throw makes in the comments section below. Stay honest! These numbers are mostly for me to be able to see your improvement throughout the season, but they can also provide some competition between you and your teammates. Train for an audience of One.


“Players play, but tough players win”- Tom Izzo

Hey guys, below is an article that covers a lot of the skills and character traits we will be working on all year! I hope as you read this, you will see that we are already working on some of them. After you read this, go back through and pick one of the areas to work on this week as you play and workout. 

“Toughness” – Jay Bilas – ESPN .com
I have heard the word “toughness” thrown around a lot lately. Reporters on television,
radio and in print have opined about a team or player’s “toughness” or quoted a coach
talking about his team having to be “tougher” to win.

Then, in almost coordinated fashion, I would watch games and see player upon player
thumping his chest after a routine play, angrily taunting an opponent after a blocked shot,
getting into a shouting match with an opposing player, or squaring up nose-to-nose as if a
fight might ensue. I see players jawing at each other, trying to “intimidate” other players.
What a waste of time. That is nothing more than fake toughness, and it has no real value.

I often wonder: Do people really understand what coaches and experienced players mean
when they emphasize “toughness” in basketball? Or is it just some buzzword that is
thrown around haphazardly without clear definition or understanding? I thought it was
the latter, and I wrote a short blog item about it a couple of weeks ago.
The response I received was overwhelming. Dozens of college basketball coaches called
to tell me that they had put the article up in the locker room, put it in each player’s locker,
or had gone over it in detail with their teams.
Memphis coach John Calipari called to say that he had his players post the definition of
toughness over their beds because he believed that true “toughness” was the one thing
that his team needed to develop to reach its potential. I received messages from high
school coaches who wanted to relay the definition of toughness to their players and
wanted to talk about it further.
Well, I got the message that I should expound upon what I consider toughness to be. It
may not be what you think.

Toughness is something I had to learn the hard way, and something I had no real idea of
until I played college basketball. When I played my first game in college, I thought that
toughness was physical and based on how much punishment I could dish out and how
much I could take. I thought I was tough.
I found out pretty quickly that I wasn’t, but I toughened up over time, and I got a pretty
good understanding of toughness through playing in the ACC, for USA Basketball, in
NBA training camps, and as a professional basketball player in Europe. I left my playing
career a heck of a lot tougher than I started it, and my only regret is that I didn’t truly “get
it” much earlier in my playing career.

When I faced a tough opponent, I wasn’t worried that I would get hit — I was concerned
that I would get sealed on ball reversal by a tough post man, or that I would get boxed out
on every play, or that my assignment would sprint the floor on every possession and get
something easy on me. The toughest guys I had to guard were the ones who made it
tough on me.Toughness has nothing to do with size, physical strength or athleticism. Some players
may be born tough, but I believe that toughness is a skill, and it is a skill that can be
developed and improved. Michigan State coach Tom Izzo always says, “Players play, but
tough players win.” He is right. Here are some of the ways true toughness is exhibited in

Set a good screen: The toughest players to guard are the players who set good screens.
When you set a good screen, you are improving the chances for a teammate to get open,
and you are greatly improving your chances of getting open. A good screen can force the
defense to make a mistake. A lazy or bad screen is a waste of everyone’s time and energy.
To be a tough player, you need to be a “screener/scorer,” a player who screens hard and
immediately looks for an opportunity on offense. On the 1984 U.S. Olympic Team, Bob
Knight made Michael Jordan set a screen before he could get a shot. If it is good enough
for Jordan, arguably the toughest player ever, it is good enough for you.

Set up your cut: The toughest players make hard cuts, and set up their cuts. Basketball is
about deception. Take your defender one way, and then plant the foot opposite of the
direction you want to go and cut hard. A hard cut may get you a basket, but it may also
get a teammate a basket. If you do not make a hard cut, you will not get anyone open.
Setting up your cut, making the proper read of the defense, and making a hard cut require
alertness, good conditioning and good concentration. Davidson’s Stephen Curry is hardly
a physical muscle-man, but he is a tough player because he is in constant motion, he
changes speeds, he sets up his cuts, and he cuts hard. Curry is hard to guard, and he is a
tough player.

Talk on defense: The toughest players talk on defense, and communicate with their
teammates. It is almost impossible to talk on defense and not be in a stance, down and
ready, with a vision of man and ball. If you talk, you let your teammates know you are
there, and make them and yourself better defenders. It also lets your opponent know that
you are fully engaged.

Jump to the ball: When on defense, the tough defenders move as the ball moves. The
toughest players move on the flight of the ball, not when it gets to its destination. And the
toughest players jump to the ball and take away the ball side of the cut. Tough players
don’t let cutters cut across their face — they make the cutter change his path.
Don’t get screened: No coach can give a player the proper footwork to get through every
screen. Tough players have a sense of urgency not to get screened and to get through
screens so that the cutter cannot catch the ball where he wants to. A tough player makes
the catch difficult.

Get your hands up: A pass discouraged is just as good as a pass denied. Tough players
play with their hands up to take away vision, get deflections and to discourage a pass in
order to allow a teammate to cover up. Cutters and post players will get open, if only for
a count. If your hands are up, you can keep the passer from seeing a momentary opening.Play the ball, see your man: Most defenders see the ball and hug their man, because
they are afraid to get beat. A tough defender plays the ball and sees his man. There is a

Get on the floor: In my first road game as a freshman, there was a loose ball that I
thought I could pick up and take the other way for an easy one. While I was bending over
at the waist, one of my opponents dived on the floor and got possession of the ball. My
coach was livid. We lost possession of the ball because I wasn’t tough enough to get on
the floor for it. I tried like hell never to get out-toughed like that again.
The first player to get to the floor is usually the one to come up with any loose ball.Close
out under control: It is too easy to fly at a shooter and think you are a tough defender. A
tough defender closes out under control, takes away a straight line drive and takes away
the shot. A tough player has a sense of urgency but has the discipline to do it the right

Post your man, not a spot: Most post players just blindly run to the low block and get
into a shoving match for a spot on the floor. The toughest post players are posting their
defensive man. A tough post player is always open, and working to get the ball to the
proper angle to get a post feed. Tough post players seal on ball reversal and call for the
ball, and they continue to post strong even if their teammates miss them.
Run the floor: Tough players sprint the floor, which drags the defense and opens up
things for others. Tough players run hard and get “easy” baskets, even though there is
nothing easy about them. Easy baskets are hard to get. Tough players don’t take tough
shots — they work hard to make them easy.

Play so hard, your coach has to take you out: I was a really hard worker in high school
and college. But I worked and trained exceptionally hard to make playing easier. I was
wrong. I once read that Bob Knight had criticized a player of his by saying, “You just
want to be comfortable out there!” Well, that was me, and when I read that, it clicked
with me. I needed to work to increase my capacity for work, not to make it easier to play.
I needed to work in order to be more productive in my time on the floor. Tough players
play so hard that their coaches have to take them out to get rest so they can put them back
in. The toughest players don’t pace themselves.

Get to your teammate first: When your teammate lays his body on the line to dive on
the floor or take a charge, the tough players get to him first to help him back up. If your
teammate misses a free throw, tough players get to him right away. Tough players are
also great teammates.

Take responsibility for your teammates: Tough players expect a lot from their
teammates, but they also put them first. When the bus leaves at 9 a.m., tough players not
only get themselves there, but they also make sure their teammates are up and get there,
too. Tough players take responsibility for others in addition to themselves. They makesure their teammates eat first, and they give credit to their teammates before taking it

Take a charge: Tough players are in a stance, playing the ball, and alert in coming over
from the weak side and taking a charge. Tough players understand the difference between
being in the right spot and being in the right spot with the intention of stopping
somebody. Some players will look puzzled and say, “But I was in the right spot.” Tough
players know that they have to get to the right spot with the sense of urgency to stop

The toughest players never shy away from taking a charge.Get in a stance: Tough players
don’t play straight up and down and put themselves in the position of having to get ready
to get ready. Tough players are down in a stance on both ends of the floor, with feet
staggered and ready to move. Tough players are the aggressor, and the aggressor is in a

Finish plays: Tough players don’t just get fouled, they get fouled and complete the play.
They don’t give up on a play or assume that a teammate will do it. A tough player plays
through to the end of the play and works to finish every play.
Work on your pass: A tough player doesn’t have his passes deflected. A tough player
gets down, pivots, pass-fakes, and works to get the proper angle to pass away from the
defense and deliver the ball.

Throw yourself into your team’s defense: A tough player fills his tank on the defensive
end, not on offense. A tough player is not deterred by a missed shot. A tough player
values his performance first by how well he defended.

Take and give criticism the right way: Tough players can take criticism without feeling
the need to answer back or give excuses. They are open to getting better and expect to be
challenged and hear tough things. You will never again in your life have the opportunity
you have now at the college level: a coaching staff that is totally and completely
dedicated to making you and your team better. Tough players listen and are not afraid to
say what other teammates may not want to hear, but need to hear.

Show strength in your body language: Tough players project confidence and security
with their body language. They do not hang their heads, do not react negatively to a
mistake of a teammate, and do not whine and complain to officials. Tough players project
strength, and do not cause their teammates to worry about them. Tough players do their
jobs, and their body language communicates that to their teammates — and to their

Catch and face: Teams that press and trap are banking on the receiver’s falling apart and
making a mistake. When pressed, tough players set up their cuts, cut hard to an open area
and present themselves as a receiver to the passer. Tough players catch, face the defense,and make the right read and play, and they do it with poise. Tough players do not just
catch and dribble; they catch and face.
Don’t get split: If you trap, a tough player gets shoulder-to-shoulder with his teammate
and does not allow the handler to split the trap and gain an advantage on the back side of
the trap.

Be alert: Tough players are not “cool.” Tough players are alert and active, and tough
players communicate with teammates so that they are alert, too. Tough players echo
commands until everyone is on the same page. They understand the best teams play five
as one. Tough players are alert in transition and get back to protect the basket and the 3-
point line. Tough players don’t just run back to find their man, they run back to stop the
ball and protect the basket.

Concentrate, and encourage your teammates to concentrate: Concentration is a skill,
and tough players work hard to concentrate on every play. Tough players go as hard as
they can for as long as they can.

It’s not your shot; it’s our shot: Tough players don’t take bad shots, and they certainly
don’t worry about getting “my” shots. Tough players work for good shots and understand
that it is not “my” shot, it is “our” shot. Tough players celebrate when “we” score.

Box out and go to the glass every time: Tough players are disciplined enough to lay a
body on someone. They make first contact and go after the ball. And tough players do it
on every possession, not just when they feel like it. They understand defense is not
complete until they secure the ball.

Take responsibility for your actions: Tough players make no excuses. They take
responsibility for their actions. Take James Johnson for example. With 17 seconds to go
in Wake’s game against Duke on Wednesday, Jon Scheyer missed a 3-pointer that
bounced right to Johnson. But instead of aggressively pursuing the ball with a sense of
urgency, Johnson stood there and waited for the ball to come to him. It never did.
Scheyer grabbed it, called a timeout and the Blue Devils hit a game-tying shot on a
possession they never should’ve had. Going after the loose ball is toughness — and
Johnson didn’t show it on that play. But what happened next? He re-focused, slipped a
screen for the winning basket, and after the game — when he could’ve been basking only
in the glow of victory — manned up to the mistake that could’ve cost his team the win.
“That was my responsibility — I should have had that,” Johnson said of the goof. No
excuses. Shouldering the responsibility. That’s toughness.

Look your coaches and teammates in the eye: Tough players never drop their heads.
They always look coaches and teammates in the eye, because if they are talking, it is
important to them and to you.Move on to the next play: Tough players don’t waste time celebrating a good play or
lamenting a bad one. They understand that basketball is too fast a game to waste time and
opportunities with celebratory gestures or angry reactions. Tough players move on to the
next play. They know that the most important play in any game is the next one.

Be hard to play against, and easy to play with: Tough players make their teammates’
jobs easier, and their opponents’ jobs tougher.
Make every game important: Tough players don’t categorize opponents and games.
They know that if they are playing, it is important. Tough players understand that if they
want to play in championship games, they must treat every game as a championship

Make getting better every day your goal: Tough players come to work every day to get
better, and keep their horizons short. They meet victory and defeat the same way: They
get up the next day and go to work to be better than they were the day before. Tough
players hate losing but are not shaken or deterred by a loss. Tough players enjoy winning
but are never satisfied. For tough players, a championship or a trophy is not a goal; it is a
destination. The goal is to get better every day.

When I was playing, the players I respected most were not the best or most talented
players. The players I respected most were the toughest players. I don’t remember
anything about the players who talked a good game or blocked a shot and acted like a
fool. I remember the players who were tough to play against.

Anybody can talk. Not anybody can be tough.